MCA in a dilemma over president Soi Lek 

Can MCA’s political doldrums be reversed? 

(The Malay Mail) – After the ninth general election in 1995, there were 100 Yang Berhormat in the party, comprising 30 MPs and 70 assemblymen. In GE10 (1999), the MCA secured 28 out of 35 parliamentary seats and 68 out of 77 state seats contested, delivering a total of 96 elected representatives.

This was topped in GE11 (2004) with 31 MPs and 76 assemblymen.

With the automatic qualification of the elected representatives as delegates, the following year’s party annual general meeting was a riotous gathering of central delegates, a deluge of elected representatives (including Senators), ex-MPs and assemblymen, municipal and district councillors, political secretaries and the sort.

The party never had so many members holding public positions. By GE12, however, there were only 46 elected representatives — 15 MPs and 31 assemblymen.

Today, the elected representatives only number 18 — seven MPs and 11 assemblymen (7-11). In a space of nine years, the party’s wakil rakyat dropped from 107 to 18 — a mere shell of 16.8 per cent.

Now, the party makes news over its disputed interpretations of “declining all government positions”.

The latest is the explanation by its president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek on the party’s nod over Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen’s acceptance as chairman of the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB).

Dr Chua says the 2012 resolution does not cover recommendations made from outside the party. It was clarified that the MTPB chair was proposed by the current minister and agreed to by the prime minister, hence it kept with the resolution. Similarly, the Johore exco episode.

Tan Sri Lim Ah Lek, former deputy president and long-serving Pahang state exco member (1974-89) and cabinet member (1989-99) said the right thing to do as a loyal Johor subject and party chief was to seek an audience and request time to reverse the party stand.

Simply put: call an EGM and explain why the party should rescind the contentious resolution.

Lim reminded that Dr Chua’s recommended expulsion by the disciplinary committee in August 2009 had been annulled by an extraordinary general meeting, requisitioned by his supporters, two months later.

An EGM can be requisitioned by the president or by one-third of the CC or one-third of the AGM delegates.

Lim opines that perhaps this EGM route was not exercised because it does not provide any “direct benefit”. Besides, leaving the resolution intact would continue to constrain his rivals’ influence.

Political analysts insist that a minimum of 10-15 years would be necessary to rebuild the party’s support, provided there was tremendous political will, energy and financial resources.  

Past and current leaders and keen observers believe Dr Chua would most likely offer himself, this December, despite his announcement to the contrary.

This same lot also believes he wouldn’t be there for the long haul.

The constitution limits the tenure of the presidency to a maximum of nine years.

Dr Chua is 66 years old and has been president since March 2010, leaving him a maximum of five-and-a-half years to lead the party.

So what is his game plan?

Meanwhile, the aborted Matang Holdings sales did nothing to endear the party to the community it professes to serve.

The activated disposal of a block of office lots in Megan Avenue and the eight-acre Bangi land is causing anxiety among long-serving members.

Megan Avenue has a sales price tag of RM20.6million. It was purchased at RM14.6m. The question is: “does the party need to sell”?

On the Bangi land, why the urgency? Why should the party agree to sell it for RM5.5m cash? In addition, a Cyberjaya building valued at RM2.5million?

The party is in no “forced sale” situation as far as its financial position is concerned, quite unlike its political position.

The party needs critical attention in the latter position. Where is our priority, asks a retired deputy minister?

It is common knowledge that during Tan Sri Lau Yin Pin’s time as treasurer-general (2003-08) — serving under president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting — he cleared party debts of  RM200 million.

He even realised 100 per cent party ownership of Wisma MCA by buying up the remainder 20 per cent.

The headquarters is estimated to be worth RM150 million. With the sprucing up, rental income annually was about RM2 million.

Datuk Alex Wong, a long-serving party man, ex-Senator and CC member, was clearly exercising restraint in offering his views: “Looks like the party is kaput (finished). I don’t know what the present leadership is doing. Anyway, I don’t think I really want to know!”

On the asset sale agenda, he could only say that the party should have adopted the formation of the Central Board of Trustees (CBOT) strongly proposed by Lau before he stepped down.

The proposal was expected to be executed when Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat became president.

It calls for the CBOT to be wholly in charge of party assets. Members are to be elected by central delegates and the board accountable directly to the AGM.

An audit committee under the CBOT would ensure that available funds are properly utilised for the party and the community’s benefit. The president is to have no authority over party assets.

An obviously miffed ex-CC member said principal officers of the party may think they are “covered” under section 18 © of the Societies Act, which stipulates “…. on any matter relating to the affairs of the party shall be final and conclusive and such decision shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court on any ground, and no court shall have the jurisdiction to  entertain …”

He argues that there is the Trustees Act 1949 to contend with.

Of course, the jewel in the crown is the around 41 per cent stake or 300 million shares in The Star and the tens of millions of ringgit in annual dividends.

So, would Dr Chua be the candidate to reverse the MCA’s political doldrums?

Tan Sri Lim and a number of 60+year-old gentlemen (who have direct, indirect and sentimental links with the party) almost in unison responded with: “Dr Chua must step down immediately”, for any hope for the MCA.